The Democrats are at it again. Today Henry Waxman’s Government Reform and Oversight Committee held hearings into the military’s handling of the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman news stories. The breathless headline that resulted was, Ranger alleges cover-up in Tillman case:
An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when the former football star died by friendly fire said Tuesday he was told by a higher-up to conceal that information from Tillman’s brother.
“I was ordered not to tell him,” U.S. Army Spc. Bryan O’Neal told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. … He said he was given the order by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman’s platoon.
Kevin Tillman, an antiwar activist who has posted on far-left web sites, denounced the military for deceiving his family about the circumstances of his brother’s death:
In earlier testimony, Kevin Tillman accused the military of “intentional falsehoods” and “deliberate and careful misrepresentations” in portraying Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy instead of friendly fire.
“We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public,” Kevin Tillman told a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing. “Pat’s death was clearly the result of fratricide,” he said, contending that the military’s misstatements amounted to “fraud.”
“Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters … so the truth needed to be suppressed,” Tillman said.
There is no question that the initial misreporting of the circumstances of Tillman’s death was stupid and improper. The claim of a government conspiracy to cover up the facts, however, is ludicrous. If you read the fine print in the article linked above, you find that Tillman died on April 22, 2004. His family was told that the cause was friendly fire on May 29, 2004, barely a month later. The same day, the Army publicly announced that friendly fire was the apparent cause.
So once the facts became clear and the matter rose to a level above the commanders in the field, the Army publicized the result of its investigation. For the Democrats and Kevin Tillman to try to make political hay out of this one-month delay, three years after the fact, casts them in a worse light than it does the Army.
PAUL adds: Bill Otis puts it this way: “Congress uses Pat Tillman’s death in the service of securing the very defeat Tillman correctly saw would be a disaster. The irony of such behavior is outstripped only by its venality.”
UPDATE: I see that a sock puppet has attacked this post, in typically intemperate fashion, on the ground that I didn’t mention that Kevin Tillman was a Ranger and was nearby when his brother Pat was killed. I think most people know that Kevin Tillman was a Ranger along with his brother; the fact has been very widely publicized. It is discussed in the article that I linked to. To suggest that I was somehow trying to cover up this well-known fact, while simultaneously linking to a news story that discussed it, is stupid. The salient point here is that Kevin Tillman is pursuing his antiwar political agenda by making over-the-top–and I think plainly false–accusations against the military and the administration. His military service does not immunize him from criticism for doing so, any more than pro-war opinions expressed by veterans are beyond dispute.
To comment on this post, go here.